How Is the UK Government Supporting Those Quitting Smoking?
Quitting smoking is one of the biggest lifestyle challenges a person can undertake. After years of smoking, a person’s reliance on cigarettes cannot be understated. Withdrawal symptoms can often be overwhelming, and it can be tough to kick cigarettes for good without any support. However, as more and more evidence of the dangers of smoking emerges, there are now plenty of resources available to help people quit, many of which being either created or supported financially by the UK government. So, what is being done to help smokers quit?
UK Laws Against Smoking
To improve public health, the UK government firstly moved to ban smoking indoors in public and workplaces in Scotland, with England and the rest of the UK following shortly after. This was a turning point for many, and one which resulted in a shift of societal thinking. Indeed, immediately after the ban, there was a sharp rise in people quitting smoking. The UK were faced with an ever increasing number of people trying to quit, so to succeed, smoking cessation methods were in need of direct government support.
Educational Resources on Smoking
One of the most direct and supportive ways to help those trying to move away from cigarettes is greater education on the subject. While we have been aware of the dangers of cigarette smoking for decades, further education is necessary to help people understand the wider risks. One such instance is education on secondhand smoke, which is helping people quit to prevent the risk to loved ones.
Furthermore, the government is trying to outline exactly what makes smoking dangerous. One concern is that many incorrectly view nicotine as the most harmful substance in cigarettes. In fact, one government educational resource has reported that 40% of smokers mistakenly believe nicotine is why cigarettes are toxic.
As many smoking cessation methods work by providing nicotine in a safer format, this misconception surrounding nicotine can become a problem. More specifically, this belief could cause people to avoid NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapies) and attempt to quit smoking alone, which is not realistically achievable in most cases. By educating the public, the government can help people make more informed and effective choices in how they quit.
Local Stop Smoking Services
While greater education on cigarettes is incredibly helpful, some smokers may need additional support when they begin their long path to quitting. This stage is supported by the government through a network of Local Stop Smoking Services.
These services offer those who have decided to quit an opportunity for support and personal advice at regular intervals, usually once a week. Attendees can expect help from trained advisors in either a one-to-one or group setting, depending on their own preference. Group meetings are often more preferable, as they afford those who are quitting smoking the chance to discuss their challenges with like minded individuals.
As mentioned, Local Stop Smoking Services are government supported and can even be attended via phone or video call if necessary. This has been especially helpful under the lockdown restrictions experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These services have been specially designed by experts and even ex-smokers, and are believed to increase the likelihood of quitting successfully by up to three times.
UK Stop Smoking Campaigns
Many anti-smoking campaigns are now running nationally in the UK, and are supported by governments councils or related bodies such as Public Health England. The broad aim of these campaigns is to encourage people to quit smoking, but also support them with valuable resources when they start. As more treatments and technologies become prevalent, more campaigns are emerging to drive the take-up of these effective smoking cessation methods.
Another month, another play on words. Supported by PHE, VApril is another popular anti-smoking campaign that is designed to help people quit smoking. However, while Stoptober is broader with their advice, VApril is based specifically around encouraging people to consider using e-cigarettes. According to E-liquids.com, whilst many smoking cessation methods exist, people are twice as likely to quit with the e-cigarettes encouraged during VApril.
VApril offers participants advice and support, such as education on the health benefits of vaping over smoking. Moreover, the campaign serves to help people easily make the switch from smoking to vaping with strong reassurance. At present, there is much misinformation surrounding vaping. While it is true that research into the potential health effects is ongoing, PHE and the UK government are confident that e-cigarettes are up to 95% healthier than smoking.
First established in 2012, Stoptober runs for 28 days each October, with the main objective being convincing people to quit smoking. Stoptober is based around the concept of encouraging people to give up smoking for the duration of the campaign, with the view to giving up smoking completely thereafter. Based on research from the campaign, people who can manage not to smoke during Stoptober, or just 28 days any day of the year, are more than five times more likely to quit for good. There has certainly been great success associated with the campaign, with PHE reporting that smoking rates dropped 2.2% following Stoptober.
Taking part in Stoptober has been designed to be as easy as possible. By signing up on their website, you will be sent a support pack full of material to help discourage and quit smoking. These packets will be dispatched around October time, although the campaign does now offer support all year round. There are even sponsorship options available which can encourage participants to join local or national groups and raise money for charity.
PHE’s Health Harms Campaign
Similar to VApril, Public Health England’s Health Harms campaign is dedicated to illustrating how helpful a tool e-cigarettes can be in the battle to quit cigarettes. Through the campaign, PHE tells people how many thousands of ex-smokers successfully quit with the help of vaping. However, it goes on to express concern that 44% of smokers either believe vaping is just as dangerous as smoking (22%) or don’t know that vaping carries far lower health risks (22%).
The campaign centres around a film that visually demonstrates the damage that cigarettes cause to our health. This includes a range of films and resources available for digital download that promote going smoke free. The inclusion of testimonials from influential figures in the medical field certainly gives the campaign authority, while helping to reinforce the benefits of e-cigarettes and other NRTs to smokers.
Personal Quit Plan
Available to access through the Personal Quit Plan page on the NHS website, this online tool helps those trying to quit by providing a structured support plan. This free tool is simple to use, and requires users to enter details relating to their smoking habits in order to give them tailored advice. It even takes into account methods that have been previously used in an attempt to better help people be more successful the next time around.
The questionnaire is only 3 questions and takes seconds to complete, giving people fast advice on how to quit smoking. In an increasingly digital society, these kinds of tools could prove incredibly helpful in encouraging smokers to quit with confidence.
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